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On October 25, 1949, Harold Epps and other law students from the North Carolina College at Durham, filed a lawsuit seeking admission to UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law. The suit was filed after both Epps and Glass applied to the law school but were denied admission. In a 1949 interview with the Daily Tar Heel, Epps said, “I am anxious to receive a first class legal education as provided to other citizens which I do not believe can be obtained at the North Carolina College at Durham because of its unaccredited status.”

During the course of the case, additional student plaintiffs were added to preserve standing. By the time the Federal District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina heard the case in August 1950, Epps had graduated from North Carolina College at Durham. The four remaining plaintiffs were Floyd McKissick, Solomon Revis, James Lassiter, and J. Kenneth Lee. Thurgood Marshall represented the plaintiffs along with Conrad Pearson, a well-known civil rights attorney in Durham. The federal district court ruled against the students on October 9, 1950, and the opinion stated, “the best interests of the plaintiffs will be served by denying the relief sought.” Epps v. Carmichael, 93 F.Supp. 327 (1950).

The plaintiffs appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and on March 27, 1951, the decision was reversed in favor of the plaintiffs. McKissick v. Carmichael, 187 F. 2d 949 (1951). The University of North Carolina appealed to the United States Supreme Court, but on June 4, 1951, the Supreme Court denied the University’s request to hear the case. Harvey Beech, James Lassiter, J. Kenneth Lee, and Floyd McKissick were admitted to UNC School of Law and began classes on June 22, 1951.

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District Court decision thumbnailEpps v. Carmichael 93 F.Supp. 327 (1950)Federal District Court decision in Epps v. Carmichael in favor of the University of North Carolina.October 9, 1950
Fourth Circuit court decision reversing district courtMcKissick v. Carmichael 187 F.2d 949 (1951)The Federal District Court's decision was reversed by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in McKissick v. Carmichael. March 27, 1951
Link to documentsCarmichael v. McKissick, 341 U.S. 951 (1951)Report of Per Curiam decision of the U.S. Supreme Court denying review of 4th Circuit decision June 4, 1951
Link to documentsDocuments filed in the Epps/McKissick caseDocuments submitted or generated in the U.S. District Court (trial court), the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court in the Epps/McKissick case.October 24, 1949 - June, 1951
Hocutt order (court minute book)Copy from the court minute book (poor image quality)Durham court order in Hocutt case (pharmacy school predecessor to McKissick case).March 28, 1933
Hocutt judgment text - PDFText of Hocutt court order.Durham court order in Text of Hocutt court order.March 28, 1933